At the ongoing Pebble Beach concourse in Monterey, California, BMW has finally revealed their 3rd-generation Z4 Roadster. Called G29 internally, the shapely and lithe is the successor to 2009’s E89 generation model with which it shares its name and take the baton of the Munich automaker’s Z line of sports cars.
This all-new Z4 is also the first flowering of the joint effort between BMW and Toyota, the latter of which is also in the process of birthing a next-generation Supra that will share many of the under-the-skin characteristics of this Z4. So far, BMW has only revealed the G29 in the M40i ‘First Edition’ guise seen here in a rich dark red with black wheels, but despite having just one variant to dissect from afar, there’s still plenty of dig into.
Starting with the exterior, it’s clear that BMW have decided to take a more aggressive approach to the Z4 overall. It retains many of its recognisable proportions and family cues, but it’s clear this car is borne of the German marque’s 2018 aesthetic. It’s kidney grilles are wide and somewhat thin, filled instead with a sort of interlocking mesh rather than the typical vertical slats.
Further along, the bonnet features a pair of strakes that aren’t too easily explained from an aerodynamics standpoint, but the slats that diffuse air from the front wheel wells are and give the side profile an interesting focal point.
A key difference to its predecessor is this Z4’s fabric roof, replacing the folding metal assembly that was a cornerstone of the E89’s appeal. BMW attributes their return to the fabric tonneau to lightness and a reduction of overall complexity, but we have our doubts whether it will result in the kind of insulation and structural security in everyday driving that the older car had, returning instead to the formula of the original Z4 and the Z3.
Inside, the Z4’s cabin layout should be recognisable to those already familiar with the brand’s most recent interior efforts, but adapted to the more sporty and cosseting needs of a sporty roadster. It’s a generally more sophisticated place to sit as well, with a rather more minimal take on switchgear and plenty of satin-ised metal accents.
The centre tunnel is quite tall, as one would expect, which falls from a more cohesive centre tunnel that has a more integrated 10-inch iDrive screen perched atop it, gracefully flowing into the digital instrument cluster. The seats here are done up in black Vernasca leather with fancier contrast stitching and there’s apparently ambient cabin lighting and a premium Harman/Kardon sound system as well.
Under the bonnet, and given the 40i designation, it’s only natural for the Z4 to be powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-6 petrol, which is shard with cars like the BMW 340i, 440i, and M240i. Power is pegged at 254kW and torque, while not officially confirmed, should stand around 450Nm. Power is channeled to the rear but passes through an 8-speed automatic transmission and, in this guise, an M Sport electronic limited-slip differential before being utilised by the wheels.
It’s unclear how soon BMW are planning to develop more extreme versions of the Z4, perhaps even slotting in the S55 engine from the F80 M3 like it did with the M2 Competition, but perhaps a more intriguing question is whether this will be the company’s first M sub-branded sports mode with a performance-enhancing hybrid drivetrain. Should that materialise, that portion of tech should be the result of further collaboration with technical partners Toyota.